Yes, yes, I know…

Yes, I fully admit it, I’ve been silent for way too long. This time of year is always a slam at work, and other things happen in — ahem — “real life” that take precedence. That’s not to say I have no creative projects (I always have a story or ten bouncing around in my brain). One of these days, when I manage to sit down with the right cup of tea and a few stimulating hours, I’ll get back to work.

In the meantime, I offer the following tidbits:

maor arcanaAs ever, my Tarot-card-inspired journey is published and available to read for free, anytime! Check it out on Inkitt or Wattpad.

Also, just to prove to you that I’m still writing (kind of), here is a little — and shockingly safe-for-work, which is unusual for me — excerpt of my current work in progress. It’s a historical fiction set in colonial New Orleans, featuring a young girl who is being groomed (Gigi-esque) for life as the consort of a rich man who can promise her, and her children, the security her mother and grandmother worked so hard to attain…

1712, Nouvelle Orleans

Marie Celeste winced as her mother pulled the comb through her thick, tangled hair. She sat, wearing only a shift, in the warm, humid night. The night of her presentation into society. Perhaps, the night of her awakening to womanhood.

“Don’t ever forget, ma princesse, that this is the most important evening of all. You must ensnare the right kind of man—the kind who can keep you.”

“I know, maman.” Marie Celeste attempted not to sigh. She had this lecture by heart.

“Your grandmother, she knew. A proud woman, she, straight from the shores of Africa. A Senegal woman. She may have been a slave, oui, but she didn’t stay that way. Mère Celeste knew how to walk, how to snap her eyes and catch a white man’s attention. Why do you think I named you after her? Your grandmother was born free, and she died free. So will I. And so will you.”

She twisted Marie Celeste’s hair, hard, making her yelp.

“Ouch! Maman!”

“Quiet, baby. I’m almost done.” With several more quick tugs and the strategic placement of pins, she managed to corral Marie Celeste’s unruly curls into a stylish knot. “Beautiful.”

Marie Celeste picked up their old hand mirror—another relic of grandmère’s—and peered at her reflection. The hairstyle was flattering, with a fluff of curls framing her face, tightening to a braided coil at the back. Certainly, she’d never looked better. How she felt was another matter.

As if sensing her daughter’s disquiet, Yvette quietly took the mirror away. She grasped Marie Celeste’s hands in her older, darker ones. Her eyes were dark and intense as she spoke.

“I know you have heard this story so many times, princesse, but listen. Just once more.” Yvette drew a heavy breath. Her hands tightened on her daughter’s. “Freedom cannot be given, bought, or sold. Freedom must be taken. And tonight, you will take it.”

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Getting Inked

Remember that creative slump I mentioned last time? Yeah, I’m still there. It’s a sad, yet comforting place to be. No pressure, just the stories gradually fermenting until they get so bubbly the cork pops off, and I can write again.

In the meantime, good thing I’ve got plenty of finished stories to revisit! Today I’d like to offer my free novel, Major Arcana: Sex, Love, and Tarot, available to read on Inkitt. Remember this one? It was my experimental work from last year: each chapter began by drawing a Tarot card from my own deck, and using that to guide the story. Lots of fun. And I am really pleased with the result. It’s contemporary erotic romance (heavy on the erotic parts, naturally!), set in my lovable hometown of Seattle, and featuring a diverse cast of characters. Oh, did I mention it’s free? Yeah, so go get on Inkitt and read it now!

What’s Inkitt, you say? Well, I heard of it from indie author/publisher/editor extraordinaire, Ms. Eeva Lancaster.It’s like Wattpad in that authors post their work, either in progress or complete, and readers can peruse, glance, or read for free. Unlike Wattpad, Inkitt offers the possibility of a publishing contract. For authors, it can be a great way to preview your work, see how readers respond to it – and maybe even get offered a publisher in the bargain. For readers, it’s a chance to get first looks at new indie stories and novels from all genres (Yes! Erotica is allowed! Hooray for dirty words and graphic sex scenes! No need to curtail your content, as Wattpad requires). So far, I’m enjoying it.

So whether you’re new or an old Inkitt fan, check out my free novel there. The cards lead in mysterious directions… and all of them somehow involve our valiant protagonist in all sorts of sexy-romantic situations.

Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot

Rosemary has just been dumped. Again.

Everything in her life seems stuck in a rut: work, family, romance, not to mention her sex life. In desperation, she takes her sister’s advice and begins a journey of self-realization with a deck of Tarot cards. That decision is what changes everything.

Guided by the Tarot, she soon finds herself making decisions she’d never considered before. With two attractive men vying for her attentions – and her body – Rosemary is forced to reconsider what she truly wants, and how far she’ll to go to get it.

Set in the artsy, quirky scene of Seattle, Major Arcana offers a glimpse into the power of the self, the diversity of erotic experience, and the joys, agonies, and risks of love.

A Sense of Accomplishment

I’m the kind of person who likes to pick one task, get it done, and then move right onto the next. In writing, this can be beneficial. Sometimes, it helps me slog through slow moments, forcing myself through as I get excited about whatever project I have waiting after I finish the current one. Other times, it makes me slow to finish, and I lose track of some of my inspiring ideas. Knowing myself, however, if I had more than one story going at once, I’d get bogged down in them all and never finish anything.

major arcana coverTherefore, I always experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment when a writing project is completed. (Or, at least, the first draft is!) This is especially true when it’s a longer work, and even more so when the entire story was one surprise after the other. That’s what just happened to me, as I typed the last word of the epilogue to Major Arcana.

As many of my readers know, this is an experimental work, published and available to read for free on Wattpad. Unlike most of my work, for this one I let my deck of Tarot cards be my guide. Each card influenced the mood and events in the chapters, so often I had to adjust the story to suit. However, in the end I think it turned out pretty well. Writing freely, with only the cards and my subconscious for direction, was scary. But it was a great exercise in flexibility and creative thinking.

Now, as that bright sense of relief and pleasure fades, the next big question arises: what to do next?

Like most authors, I have a running list of stories-to-be-written. At this point, I’m thinking about three categories:

  • Standalone erotic shorts, mostly contemporary erotica and erotic romance
  • Fairy tales erotically retold, for the purpose of getting several together into a collection
  • Historical erotic fiction, set in a variety of colonial times and settings, featuring mixed-race women as heroines (the research for these is going to be SO FUN!)
  • A new Ancients series, following up on Flowers, featuring more women from diverse corners of the ancient world

I’m dabbling in a little shorty at the moment, hoping to clean my mind and get geared up for one of the bigger projects on my list. So, what do you think? Which one should I write next? (Because you know, finishing books is addictive!)

Guided by The Cards

I’m usually a person who values the traditional writing process (as described here – it’s an invaluable tool!), but these days I’m trying something different. Instead of outlining my story from beginning to end – leaving space for plenty of fun in the middle, of course – I’m letting myself be guided by the cards. Tarot cards, to be exact. Specifically the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.

Tarot has fascinated me for years. The deck I use is one I made myself, back in the days when I had way more free time. It’s not fine art, but each card is meaningful, and speaks to me on a deeply personal level. I don’t consider myself an expert, or even a regular reader, but from time to time I find peace and guidance in doing a quick Celtic Cross for myself. It’s soothing to let the subconscious take control for a while, remove all thought and decision from the process, and just allow the Universe to speak. Some people (like my husband, no doubt), concrete thinkers and evidence-based decision-makers, might scoff at the idea, but I can say that there is energy in the cards. A kind of a tingling, a sense of being drawn towards one card over another. You can feel it, and be guided by it. It’s your subconscious speaking. The hard part is forcing you rational mind, bogged down by over-analysis, to listen.

Inspired by this, I had the idea many years ago to write a romance based on the Major Arcana. These 22 cards are a journey – some people call it The Fool’s Journey. Essentially, the cards are stepping stones through a person’s development from ignorance (childishness, innocence) into maturity (awareness, empathy, understanding). At first I thought I would write the story in order – this website does a good job summarizing it.  Then I thought “Wait a minute… if I just write the story in the traditional order, I’m really just doing the classic writer’s process! That’s not much of a challenge. And anyway, you’re supposed to let the Tarot guide…” That’s when I began to change my thinking. At that point I decided to start and end with the same cards – The Fool to The World – but let the middle be totally random, depending on which card I pick at the beginning of each chapter. My experimental erotic romance, currently published on WattPad, is the result.

Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot , is just that. (Hey, you can’t say I don’t deliver on a title!) The challenge for me has been to keep the idea of the story in my head – yes, I already know some of what will happen before I draw a card – yet allow the Tarot to guide each chapter. So far, I’ve been pleased with how it has worked out. Sometimes there were surprises (for example, I didn’t expect The Devil to pop up so soon!), and some of the cards have stymied me briefly (Judgment, for example, was really sticky for a bit), but it’s amazing to see how it is all coming together.

Who knows? Maybe my subconscious had it right all along! Wouldn’t be the first time. 🙂

If you’re curious – and I hope you are! – check out Major Arcana on Wattpad. I do love comments and critiques!

maor arcana

 

Watt’s Up on Wattpad?

So… Wattpad. What’s up with that?

Well, my good friend SexScribbler let me know about it. (You have visited her website, haven’t you? If not, head over there now and take a peek!) Wattpad, basically, is a space where writers can ‘publish’ their work and offer it to readers for free. The real interesting bit is Wattpad encourages serialized writing, as you publish chapter-by-chapter as it is finished. (In the long tradition, I might add, of great novelists like Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo; those guys were paid by the word!) Readers can vote on their favorite parts, leave comments, and offer suggestions as the story develops. Cool, right?

The process reminds me of my much younger (and even nerdier) days, and an old platform called FanFic.net .  No idea if it’s still around. In any case, my writing is long gone, censored way back when they eliminated the NC-17 rating. (Hehehe, woops, I *might* not have been 17 when writing all those sexy fantasies… ah, well, too late now!) However, it offered a similar freedom of storytelling. Some people only uploaded finished stories, but many, like me, published them one chapter at a time. That’s how I got my first giddy taste of admiration from fans of my story… not to mention enjoyed some forays into my dirty high school imagination with Legolas the Elf. (Yeah. I was that girl…) In the here and now, Wattpad offers a similar experience connecting writers and readers – minus the fan fiction bit. (And the sexiness. Alas, Wattpad does not approve of “scenes merely for the purpose of titillation,” so I’ve had to censor my language somewhat…ahem. Never mind; when I publish it in real-book form all the smut shall return!)

major arcana coverMy current project is very much chapter based, as each chapter is linked to a certain card from the Tarot deck. In fact, I don’t know what the card will be until the moment I draw it – just like Rosemary, my lovely main character. So far there are two cute guys, hilarious siblings, big life decisions, and art. Lots of art. Also, it is the first story I’ve set in my hometown of Seattle, so that’s kind of fun.

Want to take a look? Well you’re in luck, because it’s free to read on Wattpad! Just click on the link and take a look! It’s not finished, but I promise it will be. 🙂 (And hey, if you’d like to leave a vote or two, go right ahead!)

Read “Major Arcana” on Wattpad!